NEW YORK CITY, New York - Just 14 months before it opens in Nassau, The Bahamas, the development team for the $3.5 billion Baha Mar mega resort visited New York Wednesday to make sure the brand message was clear: This will not be another Atlantis.
Ever since the project broke ground in 2011, many in the travel industry were comparing it to the already immensely popular Atlantis, a haven for families and foodies heading to Paradise Island. And how could they not? The plans, from casino gaming to golf courses to fine dining, sounded very similar to the offerings that have made Atlantis a popular draw for years.
Aside from one exception: Baha Mar’s guests will be a tad more mature.
“We are really looking to target that adult segment,” says Denise Godreau, chief marketing officer for Baha Mar. “Atlantis has done a good job in strengthening themselves for the family market. It’s good for them, it’s good for us and it’s good for The Bahamas if we go for another segment.”
Roughly 2/3 of the construction work has already been completed with the project expected to be complete by December of 2014. Agents will able to book the property about seven months prior to the official opening. The opening date is impressive when you consider the list of obstacles the development team had to overcome. Tom Dunlap, president of Baha Mar, told attendees some obstacles the development team had to undertake were replacing three existing banks, moving the police and fire stations and even relocating the Prime Minister's office.
“There were times where we didn’t know how we would get this done, but we knew we would somehow,” says Sarkis Izmirlian, chairman and CEO of Baha Mar. “You learn through this process that tenacity is just as important as anything else when you’re putting together a project like that.”
And the team seems confident it will have the airlift to accommodate the scores of tourists it aims to attract. Since it already has a tight grip on airlift from the East Coast of the U.S., Izmirlian says he wanted to target areas where there wasn’t adequate airlift to The Bahamas.
“We have to fish where there is fish,” he says, noting that the Bahamas is looking to secure new flights from Russia by next year, is in discussion with China, mainly Beijing and Shanghai, and is also talking with several destinations in Latin America. “Overall, the airlift talks have been very positive.”
Baha Mar will offer 2,200 hotel rooms spread across four major hotel brands, including Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Mondrian, a Morgans Hotel Group property, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, as well as the new, dazzling centerpiece of Baha Mar, The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel. Baha Mar’s stunning, new 100,000 square-foot casino will be one of the most compelling and exciting gaming experiences in North America.
Dunlap says there will be also be a VIP villa on the site that will be designed by famous rock musician Lenny Kravitz, whose mother, the late actress Roxie Roker, was of Bahamian and African-American descent. Kravitz loved the room so much, Dunlap says, that he opted to call it, “Roxie." Kravitz will also be designing a nightclub at Baha Mar and even said that he will perform some acoustic shows there for hotel guests, Dunlap says.
Baha Mar will also feature some of the most advanced and versatile convention facilities in The Bahamas, with a combined 200,000 square feet of space, portions of which also can double as an entertainment and sports venue. Other amenities will include 200,000 square feet of retail and entertainment experiences, combining upscale shopping boutiques with authentic Bahamian arts and crafts galleries, chef-branded restaurants and exciting nightclub and entertainment offerings.
The planned 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course aims to be one of a select few top-tier Nicklaus courses in the world, bringing a new, true championship course to The Bahamas.